In recent months, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected our lives in a variety of ways. One of the biggest changes has been to the way in which we work, with many businesses having to adapt their practices.
As you may be aware, the virus had a significant impact on the film industry. Not only did it affect the ability of crews to shoot and produce, but it also forced many cinemas to stay closed due to restrictions.
As we adjust to the “new normal”, many people are wondering what it could mean for the future of the film industry. Read on to find out what the coming months could bring.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the UK film industry, due to a double whammy of reduced ability to shoot new films and lockdown restrictions forcing the temporary closure of many cinemas.
The lockdown restrictions made it difficult for any film crews to operate normally, as even when they were allowed to shoot, they had to abide by social distancing rules. This significantly limited the number of people who could be on a set at any time and slowed down production dramatically.
If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines in recent months, you may recall Tom Cruise’s heated outburst at production staff who were not adequately following social distancing guidelines. According to the Guardian, he reportedly threatened an instant dismissal to anyone found breaking the rules.
Even when the government eased restrictions in summer, their attempts to reduce the spread of the virus caused trouble for the industry.
As you may remember, for much of the pandemic if you travelled to the UK from abroad, you needed to self-isolate for 10 days once you arrived. While the government had initially exempted film crews and executives from the need to quarantine themselves, they changed their minds in January 2021. This caused significant disruptions to many studios, who now found themselves lacking key personnel.
Due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the amount of money spent on producing films and high-end TV shows in the UK fell by a considerable amount.
According to figures from the British Film Institute (BFI), published in the Guardian, total spending in 2020 was one-fifth lower than 2019. Furthermore, of the £2.84 billion that was spent, almost half of it came in the final three months of the year.
The report also highlighted the difficulties faced by cinema owners due to the restrictions in 2020. With venues closed for months on end and deprived of their usual blockbuster content when they were open, many struggled financially.
According to the BFI, admissions to cinemas fell by around 75% in 2020 down to just 44 million, the lowest level since records began almost a century ago in 1928. The impact of the pandemic can be seen in the fact that the highest grossing film of the year, the first world war drama 1917, only made £44 million.
With many cinemas experiencing prolonged financial difficulties, it raises the question of whether the industry will ever again see the returns that it did prior to the pandemic. If too many are forced to close, it may put the future of film production in jeopardy.
While recent months may have been difficult for the film industry, there’s still hope for the near future.
One positive sign is that the pandemic hasn’t lessened the public’s appetite for films. According to figures published in the Guardian, admissions to cinema chain Vue in the final weekend of July have been more than twice their weekly average for the past 18 months.
For many years, there have been concerns over the impact that streaming services, such as Netflix and Disney+, were having on the film industry.
However, while the pandemic may have increased usage of such services, in the long term it may have had the opposite effect. Since people have no alternative, and only a trickle of new releases, it may have reminded many people how much better it is to see films at the cinema, instead of in their living rooms.
As for those who work in the film industry, it may be some time before life reverts to how it was pre-pandemic. One of the changes that is likely to continue, at least for the near future, is social distancing on film sets.
While this is may be important for limiting the spread of the virus, it can still make shooting difficult. Despite this, many industry experts are confident that, while it may take some time to adapt, film crews are more than up to the challenge.
Helen Jones, producer of the recent horror thriller Censor, was quoted in an interview with the BBC as saying that “if there’s any industry that can handle this kind of thing, it’s this one”.
She stated that, while adapting to the limited number of people on the set at any time was difficult, it also drew the team closer together. Since everyone had to communicate more and work together more closely, it prompted a greater spirit of camaraderie among the crew.
If regulations continue, it’s possible that there may be a shift in the type of movies that are produced.
Director Prano Bailey-Bond noted in the same BBC interview that there has been a recent increase in the number of scripts focused on solo characters. Whether this reflects the isolating psychological environment of the pandemic or is to fit with health and safety guidelines is hard to say.
At a time when things are difficult enough already, the last thing you need is for an unexpected problem to arise in your shoot. If it does, it could seriously derail your production and waste valuable time and money.
While you cannot predict what issues might occur, you can shield yourself from their effects with financial protection. This can enable you to get back to doing what you do best with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ll be able to overcome any obstacle.